United States and Saudi Arabia call on Sudanese belligerents to extend ceasefire | Conflict News

As a shaky truce signed last week is set to expire, Sudanese civilians fear fighting between the army and a rival paramilitary force may escalate.

The United States and Saudi Arabia have called on warring parties in Sudan to extend a fragile ceasefire as weeks of fighting reached a stalemate in the capital and elsewhere in the African country.

In a joint statement on Sunday, Washington and Riyadh called for an extension of the current truce, which is due to expire at 9:45 p.m. [19:45 GMT] Monday.

“While imperfect, an extension will nonetheless facilitate the delivery of urgently needed humanitarian assistance to the people of Sudan,” the statement said.

He also urged the Sudanese military government and the rival paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) to continue negotiations to reach an agreement on extending the ceasefire.

Fighting broke out in mid-April. Military leader General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and RSF chief General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo led the 2021 coup that toppled the Western-backed government of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.

The conflict has killed hundreds, injured thousands and pushed the country to the brink of collapse. It has forced nearly 1.4 million people from their homes to move to safer areas inside Sudan or to neighboring countries, according to the UN migration agency.

The army and RSF had agreed last week on a one-week truce negotiated by the United States and the Saudis. However, the ceasefire, like others before it, has not stopped fighting in the capital, Khartoum, and elsewhere in the country.

Residents reported sporadic fresh fighting in parts of the capital’s neighboring city of Omdurman on Sunday, where army jets were seen flying overhead. Fighting was also reported in al-Fasher, the provincial capital of North Darfur.

Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan, reporting from Khartoum, said the delivery of humanitarian aid had not been possible in many parts of the capital and the country.

“Humanitarian aid was able to arrive on Saturday, but it reached very few people,” Morgan said. “People fear that with the expiry of the ceasefire, there will be more fighting and they will be caught between the two sides.”

Fragile truce

In a separate statement, the United States and Saudi Arabia accused both the army and the RSF of violating the ceasefire, saying such violations “significantly impede the delivery of humanitarian aid and the restoration of essential services”.

The statement mentions airstrikes by the army, including one that reportedly killed at least two people on Saturday in Khartoum. The RSF are also accused of continuing to occupy civilian homes, private businesses and public buildings and to loot some residences.

“Both sides have told facilitators their goal is de-escalation to facilitate humanitarian assistance and essential reparations, but both sides are preparing for further escalation,” the statement said.

Mini Minawi, the governor of the war-torn region of Darfur in western Sudan, on Sunday called on residents to “take up arms” after markets were burned and health and humanitarian facilities were looted.

“I call on all our honorable citizens, the people of Darfur, young and old, men and women, to take up arms to protect their property,” he said on Twitter.

Most of the heaviest fighting raged in Khartoum and Darfur near the border with Chad.

Morgan said Minawi also leads an armed faction whose involvement could escalate the fighting.

Tens of thousands of Sudanese have crossed into Chad as concerns grow over the militarization of those who remain.

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